Sarkisian Notes and Quotes - 9/7

SEATTLE - Here are some notes and quotes from Steve Sarkisian's Monday press conference, as the Washington Huskies (0-1) get set to take on the Idaho Vandals (1-0) Saturday afternoon at Husky Stadium. Game time is 12:30 and it will be shown on Fox Sports Northwest.

Film Study: When Sarkisian watched the film Sunday morning, a lot of what he thought he saw during the LSU game held true. "The team played hard, with great effort and tremendous enthusiasm," he said. "Unfortunately when you turn the ball over twice, one for a TD and one in the red zone, that's 14 points you give up. It's a big swing, not only in the momentum, but also in the overall outcome. You look at those five other trips, and you only get 9 out of a potential 35."

So what did he see? Sarkisian said he saw Chris Polk emerge as a physical runner and he also saw that the stage wasn't too big for true freshman WR James Johnson. And he was very happy with what he saw out of converted running back Johri Fogerson. "When you have that versatility, it creates some things for the defense where they have to think," he said of Fogerson's ability to play multiple positions on offense, as well as be a weapon in the return game. "You don't know what formation you're going to get when he's on the field, so we try and use that to our advantage."

Sarkisian noted that he could easily see Fogerson's role expand as the season goes along, and also is looking to use sophomore receiver Jermaine Kearse more in sets with James Johnson. Kearse got in on 24 snaps Saturday, as opposed to Johnson, who was in on 68 of the Huskies' 84 snaps.

They prepared the team for adversity, and when the pick-six came against QB Jake Locker, Polk had a 33-yard run from scrimmage on the very next play. "They didn't fold in their tents," he said. He added that the team also played until the very end of the game, something he was also very proud of.

"It was huge," he said when asked about the touchdown scored on the final play of the game. "It was huge for me, it was huge for our team - because it's not just about talking it. It's about doing it. And we've talked all along that we were going to play 60 minutes, that we were going to play four quarters, that we're going to finish, we're going to compete - and they did it. I was proud of them for keeping their heads in the game and battling."

Sarkisian said that the effort was great, the game-day atmosphere at Husky Stadium was exactly what they wanted it to be, and the fans were into the game. "It was rockin'," he said. They just have to continue to get better and get back into the grind for an Idaho team coming in with a lot of confidence.

Sarkisian said he didn't get to bed until 4:30, because he wanted to watch the game while it was still fresh and he was raring to go. "There's a tremendous natural high about competing at that level," he said. "I didn't want to go to sleep.

"It was a great experience, and everything I thought it would be, it was."

So how was it as a Head Coach for the first time, as opposed to being just the Offensive Coordinator? "The only time it popped up was when it was fourth down," Sarkisian said. "When you're the Offensive Coordinator, it's easy. 'Go for it, coach'. Let the head coach make the decision. But as the head coach, I felt like I was alter-egoing myself. 'Go for it, but is it the right thing for our football team? Is it the right thing for our defense?' And I think we made all the right decisions."

He added that it felt like they did a good job of communicating between the booth upstairs and on the field, other than the one substitution penalty. "I felt like some of the penalties were typical of the first week, where things will get cleaned up from here on out. Some of them were energy things, first game jitters."

Vandal Ties: There are eight coaches with ties to the Idaho Vandals on Sarkisian's staff: Doug Nussmeier, Mike Cox, Dan Cozzetto, Joel Thomas and Mike Anderson all graduated from Idaho, and Cox, Cozzetto, Thomas, Anderson, Nick Holt, Jeff Mills and Johnny Nansen all coached in Moscow. Sarkisian said that when he was in the process of hiring coaches for his UW staff, he wanted to have guys with ties to the NW. He also wanted guys that knew what it was like when UW was rolling with Don James. "I'm keeping an eye on them this week," he said of the assistants with Vandal ties. "I don't want to have any game plans faxed to Idaho this week."

When asked about them personally, Sarkisian said that they are all very intense guys. "From Cozzetto to Holt to Mike Cox, Johnny Nansen, Nuss, Joel Thomas - it's a very intense group of guys," he said. "They compete extremely well. I'm proud to have them on our staff."

Nansen, in particular, was a former Idaho coach that Sarkisian immediately sought out after learning he had been hired by Washington. "I had a chance to coach with him at USC's summer camp," Sarkisian said of his Special Teams and Recruiting Coordinator. "The kids really respected him." He also noted how the two kept meeting up on the road recruiting and Sarkisian was hearing how kids talked about him, especially the recruits from Los Angeles. "He was the first guy I hired for a number of reasons," Sarkisian added.

Idaho Review: Idaho went on the road in Week One and beat new head coach DeWayne Walker and New Mexico State 21-6 after building up a 21-0 lead at halftime. "Idaho came in and competed really well," Sarkisian said. "Shiloah Keo had a great game. We'll take some of the things we saw that night and learn from it."

QB Nathan Enderle was 11-21 for 179 and two touchdowns, while Princeton McCarty added 96 yards rushing - 67 on one play. "They started very fast," Sarkisian said. "They are a defense that is aggressive. They are tough. They play fast. Offensively they have two running backs who are very good and a veteran QB who understands the scheme. (Max) Komar and (Preston) Davis are good WR's that make plays. They are efficient on offense, aggressive on defense. They eliminated big plays, kept things in front of them and overall played a clean football game."

"They are going to come in here with their hair on fire," added UW Running Backs Coach Joel Thomas. "You're going to play in the Pac-10, and there are plenty of west side kids on that roster that wanted to be or play in the Pac-10. Motivation is not going to be a factor for them. And at the same time, we have to handle our business and get ready to rock and roll. We have to make sure we come out with the intensity and focus we need to compete in any game."

Locker Still Trying To Find His Comfort Zone: Sarkisian said that he was very happy with how the junior QB fared Saturday night, throwing for 321 yards and two touchdowns. "I don't want Jake to burden this whole load," he said. "We've got to be able to rely on other sources in our offense to make plays for us." Right after the pick-six for example, Sarkisian came back and ran out of two-backs. "We're not a one-man show," he added. "We've got to be able to play as an 11-man unit on every snap."

So did Sarkisian learn something new about his quarterback once the bullets were flying, so to speak? "He's an intense guy and he wants the ball," Sarkisian said. "And that's what you want.

"He's still trying to find his comfort zone," he added, noting that the staff have to continue to get him comfortable with the system, so he can complete the easy reads and lessen their ability to have to convert on third and long. "That comes with efficiency in the passing game on first and second down."

Secondary Shakeup: The two deeps, released by UW Monday morning, didn't contain too many surprises, but there were some moves in the back end. Justin Glenn has been moved to the free safety position, and David Batts has moved to cornerback.

"(Glenn) has done a nice job of tackling from the corner spot," Sarkisian said. With the emergence of Desmond Trufant, he could be used at safety. And Batts? Sarkisian said the move is going to allow Batts, who came to UW this fall from El Camino College, to not have to think as much and use his cover skills. That way UW has a little bit more of a physical presence at the corner position to match up with Quinton Richardson at the other corner spot. Now UW has three corners (Richardson, Batts and Desmond Trufant) that are listed as being at least 6 feet tall.

At safety, Greg Walker was exposed a couple of times by LSU receiver Terrance Toliver Saturday night, and Victor Aiyewa came in to spell Walker in the fourth quarter after it appeared that Walker had suffered a cramp. "The assumption is that Greg Walker missed a couple of tackles and Victor came in to save the day, and that's somewhat true," Sarkisian said. "Greg missed a couple of tackles, and they were tough tackles. Victor did some real nice things for us, but we weren't perfect."

Injury Report: Darrion Jones has a bruised knee and sprained ankle. He is 'day-to-day' according to Sarkisian. Jones was at practice Monday night, which was held in the Dempsey Indoor, but he wasn't working out. Everywhere else they are pretty healthy, other than the typical bumps and bruises that come from playing a very physical game against LSU.

I was able to confirm with Sarkisian Monday that freshman defensive tackle Chris Robinson has had successful knee surgery, and is at home in Tustin, Calif. right now, resting. He will make the trip back up to Seattle at the end of the month when school starts. "He'll be back to rehab," Sarkisian said. "This rehab, we want him with us."


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